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Festive Outdoor Fall Party Ideas

As the temperatures start to dip, the time to begin searching for fall party ideas arrives. From sampling treats around a bonfire to hosting outdoor football parties or chili bars, you’ll love planning outdoor activities with your friends and family this autumn. We are here to help you find your inspiration. Read on as we reveal some of our favorite fall party ideas to keep the outdoor fun going through the holidays.   

Plan a Football Party

Fall weekends were made for football. Whether you are a die-hard fan of a college team or a new convert to the excitement of an NFL Sunday, you can join your fellow fans for a custom backyard tailgate party. If your driveway allows for you to open your car’s hatch or lower a truck’s tailgate near the rest of the festivities, that’s a great way to stage some of your buffet. If not, no problem! Southern Living loves the idea of setting up a grab-and-go buffet that is close to your outdoor television or the screen where you are projecting the game. The Magazine recommends that you keep it simple for your fall party “by offering fun, filling small-bites—sliders, dips, various snacks (sweet and salty) that can be grabbed by the handful—or hearty chili in sturdy mugs.” Beer and a pitcher of themed cocktails are always a hit, but be sure to include plenty of non-alcoholic options.

Schedule a Game Night

Among the most popular fall party ideas is a game night under the stars. Southern Living recommends choosing something easy to start, such as “[ordering] an oversized Jenga set” and then personalizing it by “[breaking] out the spray paint” to create a “game with custom colors.” All-weather games, like a weather-resistant cornhole set, allow you to keep hosting family-friendly competitions in the backyard even after the snow starts to fall.

Organize a Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt

Do you still have a collection of mini pumpkins from Halloween? Better Homes & Gardens suggests organizing a pumpkin hunting contest. Whether the pumpkins are in their natural state or painted, this easy-to-manage fall party game will keep the kids guessing. As the Magazine explains, “tuck the minis away in trees, under tables, and all throughout your party site,” and let the hunt begin. 

Host a Stargazing Party

Are you interested in learning more about the night sky? Are your kids avid stargazers? Allison Carter, entertaining expert for Allison Carter Celebrates, tells Martha Stewart Living that one of the best ideas for an outdoor family party blends an educational element with a sense of adventure. Carter suggests to the Magazine that families “‘download a stargazing app and point it to the sky so kids can identify the different constellations and stars’” as a way of connecting with “‘this big, beautiful world.’”  

Light a Fall Bonfire

Remember the harvest bonfires you enjoyed when you were a kid? It’s time to bring back the tradition by planning a fabulous fall party around your firepit. For small outdoor parties, you can easily set up Adirondack chairs around the fire and drape them with cozy blankets for extra warmth. For larger gatherings or themed-harvest parties, Midwest Living applauds the idea of adding “blanket-topped hay bales [that] surround the flames and provide easy seats,” as well as crafting “recycled-sweater koozies [to] protect fingers from cold drinks.” Naturally, you’ll want to be sure to have all the ingredients for some truly decadent hot chocolate, mulled wine, and s’mores, in addition to all of your other fall party nibbles.

Throw a Fall Food-Themed Event

If you can lay a grill down over your firepit, you’ll want to gather your favorite fall food ideas and pick your favorites. For example, Midwest Living adores the idea of “warming up outdoor parties with a bubbling pot of fondue,” including a thoroughly indulgent beer-cheese option. The Magazine is also a fan of offering small bites (like hamburger sliders kept warm on a pizza stone), as well as something heartier like a “zesty chicken chili cooked in an iron kettle over the fire.” And, of course, those pizza ovens that were so popular in the spring and summer will win even more fans as the temperatures fall.

If you love doing all the cooking when you host, go for it. But one of the most popular fall party ideas this year is to throw a cook-off. For example, you can host a chili bar that features different slow cooker or instant pot chili batches courtesy of each of your guests. Then, you can provide a plethora of possible toppings to make the most of each dish.

Delight with a DIY Caramel Apple Bar

Casual fall party plans are made sweeter when you surprise your guests with a DIY caramel apple bar. From young kids to those young-at-heart, this fall treat will bring a smile. The editors of Better Homes & Gardens “recommend adding chocolate, white chocolate, and butterscotch as variations to the traditional caramel” for your base, but the delights don’t stop there.  From candied pecans with a splash of bourbon for the adults to granola, pretzels, M&Ms, and nuts, you can’t go wrong by offering a variety of salt and sweet toppings.

Raise a Toast to a Beer Tasting

Taking inspiration from Oktoberfest, a celebratory beer-tasting party for your friends who are connoisseurs could be a big hit. While everyone will have their own ideas of what makes the best fall beer, you can set up a tasting in your backyard (or patio) to crown the winner. Plan a menu of German specialties to continue with the Oktoberfest inspiration (even after October has long passed), or pick your favorite food pairings for each brew. If you don’t have a full flight of beers in mind, consider choosing something from a local brewhouse that is new to you. For special events, you can even get commemorative beer steins or glasses made as party favors. It is bound to be the fall party idea that gets applause for years to come!